How to Make the Most of NaNoWriMo – Week 1

by Lexi Cooper, Editor

It’s the first week of NaNoWriMo! Motivation is high, and word count goals are still being met (probably). This is a crucial time in the endeavor to write 50,000 words in a month. This week can set the tone for the whole month.

This week’s tips are going to be about how you can make the most of the first week of the month.

If your NaNoWriMo hasn’t gotten off to a great start, don’t fret. There is still plenty of time. You can adjust your daily goal and catch up. It may be as simple as a goal of 1,800 words a day instead of 1,667.

Regardless of whether you’re on track or falling behind, here are some ways you can take advantage of this week’s excitement that will help you later in the month.

Write Extra

With the high enthusiasm of starting NaNoWriMo, you may have the energy and even the time to write more than the daily goal of 1,667 words. Do it! Trust me, you won’t regret it later.

Getting ahead in your word count now can give you some breathing room when later in the month life gets busy or you get stuck on the story. Having days where you’re unable to meet your word count goal is inevitable, so if you can write a little bit extra this first week.

Writing 100 extra words can help make the most of NaNoWriMo
Writing Extra Words

Even if you only write 100 extra words each day over the next couple of days, this could help you tremendously. Check out our other blog on how to write a high word count in a day.

Plan or Outline

Planning for NaNoWriMo
Where is your story going next?

If you don’t feel like adding extra words, you can still find ways to get ahead this week. One of these is planning or outlining.

Now maybe you spent all of October (or preptober) outlining you book. First of all, great job. As someone who is 80% a pantser and only 20% an outliner, I applaud you; I have yet to fully outline a book before starting it, and at this point, I’m not sure I ever will haha.

But maybe you decided to participate in NaNoWriMo on October 31st in a candy-induced stroke of genius (or madness).

Either way, there are likely some ways you can still plan ahead.

If you haven’t done any planning, you can make a general outline for the whole book. If you have an outline, perhaps you can get more detailed. You can think through the next couple of scenes or chapters, writing down any ideas or inspiration that comes to you now that you have started the story.

For both plotters and pantsers, having an idea of where the story is going next can only help you during the struggles that will come this month. Savannah Gilbo, editor and book coach, has a great blog that talks all about planning for NaNoWriMo.

Research or Build Your World

If you already have an outline, or if you’re a discovery writer (and outlining is the bane of your existence), worldbuilding can also be a great way to get ahead this week.

To prevent yourself from later stopping to research on the 66 BC Battle of the Lycus or to establish the rules of your magic system, you can (and should) do those things now.

No matter your genre, it is likely that you will have to do some level of research or planning for the world your story takes place in. There are tons of great resources to help you get at least the basics down, which will help you to not get stuck on anything related to the world later in the story.

Ask yourself questions about the world. Where do people live? What is the environment like? How does the weather affect daily life? How do people make money? What kinds of jobs are common? What is the culture like? How do people treat their family members? What kind of food do people eat? What animals live in the area?

Questions to ask when building a world for your NaNoWriMo
Worldbuilding questions

Questions like these are bound to come up as you write, so the more you answer now, the less you will have to worry about later. Jerry Jenkins, author, goes through a step by step process of worldbuilding. You don’t have to create a whole system of government right now, but knowing the basics (like whether it is a monarchy, democracy, theocracy, etc.) will help inform your story and prevent you from thinking too much about it later this month.

Develop Characters

Developing characters can help you make the most of NaNoWriMo
Develop Characters

Just like how knowing your world will help you later in the month, knowing your characters will do the same.

You may have already filled out character questionnaires or written sample scenes to get to know your characters, but you will likely find things you didn’t think about as you write this month. Or perhaps in your first few days of writing, you’ve realized that your side characters feel as flat as pancakes.

If you feel any of your characters lacking development, now is a great time to get to know them. If you haven’t already, you can fill out questionnaires or simply write descriptions of their appearance, personality, and background. Getting to know them a bit now will help you know how they will act and what they will do in each scene, which could be a lifesaver later this month. You can even create a plot diagram for your characters which we explain in an earlier blog.

So, if you have some extra time and motivation over the next couple of days, you can write some extra words, outline, do some worldbuilding or research, or further develop your characters. Anything you can do this week will help you in the weeks to come.

Good luck writers! We got this!

Check out BDR Publishing’s blog 5 Tips to Survive NaNoWriMo

Week 1 of NaNoWriMo